Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Why We Love Rental Properties While Traveling as a Family

One common theme that you'll find in most of our trips is that we tend to rent a home or condo instead of staying in a hotel. I think it's the single most important reason we've had such enjoyable family vacations.

10 Reasons Rental Properties are Great for Traveling Families
1.) Space. We have an almost two-year-old. I can't imagine containing him in a hotel room for more than a couple of days/nights. I'm certain I'd feel even more strongly about this if we had more kids.

2.) Cost. We often find this to be cheaper than staying at a decent hotel. In fact, we've never spent more than $150 per night on any of the two-bedroom places we've rented.

3.) Furniture. Does that sound weird? We loved having a couch for the arrow to cuddle up on and watch some Elmo before bed. And a table to gather around for meals. In most hotels, you get a bed, perhaps a chair, and if you're really lucky, a small loveseat.

Who needs pants when you have a comfy couch, Sesame Street and milk?
4.) Parking. It's always been free at the places we've stayed. This is often not the case at hotels.

5.) Meals. It's nice to not have to eat out for every meal (especially breakfast!) A little kitchen with a refrigerator to store leftovers and the basics is really convenient.

6.) Outdoor space. We could do a short hike right from our very own yard when we stayed in Red River Gorge, Kentucky. In St. Pete Beach we had a great outdoor patio, pool, and grill (all shared). The arrow couldn't walk then or get much use out of it, but in South Haven, Michigan we had a huge lawn, volleyball area, etc. for him to explore had he been old enough at the time.

Mammoth Arch in Red River Gorge, Kentucky was just a short hike from our cabin.

7.) Separate bedrooms. The arrow goes to bed far earlier than we do and he still naps for a couple of hours each day. It's so nice for him to have his own space to snooze.

8.) Easy to research. There are great websites like HomeAway that allow you to find rental properties all over the world. If you can't find a property on a national site like that for the area where you're traveling, try googling your location and "rental property." You'll probably find a local rental management company with multiple properties listed. And some tourism bureaus provide that type of listing information on their websites.

9.) Keep your money local. The rental properties we've stayed in have all been locally-owned. I like the idea that my money stays where I'm vacationing and supports that economy, not sent away to some giant chain.

10.) The "extras." You know, the things that make someplace feel a little more like home. Tucked away in the closet at our condo in St. Pete Beach were beach toys. Our cottage in South Haven had nice warm blankets we could use to cuddle up with on the porch. It's so nice to know you don't have to pack every little thing you might need, especially since traveling with kids means you're already packing too much!

Enjoying the beach toys found in our condo on St. Pete Beach.

What could feel even more like home while traveling? Staying at someone else's house, perhaps? I'm getting ready to post our home on Luxe Home Swap,* a company that specializes in home exchange and sponsored Passports with Purpose, a great cause I supported this winter. I don't know if anyone will take an interest in spending a few days in Columbus, Indiana, but I'm excited by the open-ended possibility that someone might, and that we could in turn experience their corner of the world. I'll keep you posted if we end up swapping!

*Luxe Home Swap provided me with a free subscription on their site. I was under no obligation to write about this offer.

This post is a part of Top 10 Tuesday at Oh Amanda.